It is known that gas giants, such as Saturn and Jupiter, have cores at their very center, just like the Earth, a solid planet has a core. The problem is that it is almost impossible to see the core of a gas giant without the cooperation of nature and a lot of luck. Well, odds have been in favor of the science community this time. Astronomers affiliated with the University of Warwick have just uncovered an exposed giant gas core, the first of its kind. They did not notice this in our own solar system, but rather on TOI-849b, a planet located around 730 light-years away.
The planet is roughly the size of Neptune, so about four times bigger than our home planet. The planet, however, is similar to Earth when it comes to density, thus suggesting a possible accumulation of layers of helium and hydrogen. These layers were not present, so the only logical solution is that something has stripped the gas away. For the gas to be stripped away, it had to be there initially.
The team of researchers, which made use of the Transiting Exoplanet Survey Satellite, belonging to NASA, then refining the information with the help of telescopes located in Chile, at the La Silla Observatory. The team conducted some research with the celestial body, measuring the mass of TOI-849b and looking into slight changes in the light spectrum caused by the wobble of the planet.
For now, we do not know what led to this jovian world being stripped of its gas, but two possibilities are circulating around the scientific community. It could be that TOI-849b’s proximity to its star caused tidal disruptions, stripping it of its gas. It could also be that the planet formed in a late stage of development, thus ending up without gas.